National Roundup


Former Disney employee senten ced for child porn

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) -- A former Walt Disney World employee has been sentenced to four years in prison on a federal child pornography charge.

According to court records, Patrick McKenzie of St. Cloud was working as a janitorial supervisor for Disney when he was arrested in March 2010.

The Orlando Sentinel reports that according to McKenzie's plea agreement, investigators found a video depicting child pornography playing on a laptop when they arrived at his home. The investigators said they eventually found more than 600 images and nine videos depicting child pornography on the computer.

McKenzie pleaded guilty in November to one count of possessing child pornography. He was sentenced Tuesday to prison followed by 10 years probation. His federal public defender declined comment Wednesday.


Judge lets state's gay marriage ban stand

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- A Hennepin County judge has dismissed a lawsuit that sought to make gay marriage legal in Minnesota.

Judge Mary Dufresne (doo-FRAYN') rejected arguments by the group Marry Me Minnesota that the state's 13-year-old Defense of Marriage Act violates same-sex couples' rights to due process, equal protection, religious freedom and freedom of association.

The Star Tribune reported Wednesday that the judge wrote in an order Monday that she's bound by a 1971 Minnesota Supreme Court decision that says the Legislature has the power to limit marriage to one man and one woman.

Doug Benson, executive director of Marry Me Minnesota, says the group is disappointed and will appeal. He says the ruling is a slap at thousands of gay and lesbian couples who want the same rights their neighbors have.


Court to hear death row inmate retardation claim

DENVER (AP) -- A panel of the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals will hear arguments in a case involving an Oklahoma death row inmate who says he should not be executed because he was mentally retarded when he killed an Oklahoma City couple in 1993.

George Ochoa was one of two people convicted in the 1993 slayings of Francisco Morales and Maria Yanez. Ochoa has lost several rounds of appeals in Oklahoma state and federal courts. The Denver-based appellate court will hear arguments Wednesday in the latest appeal that cites a 2002 U.S. Supreme Court case that mentally retarded inmates cannot be executed.

An Oklahoma jury in 2005 found that Ochoa was not mentally retarded. Defense attorneys argue that Ochoa's IQ improved to above the mental retardation threshold after the crime.


Feds to seek 21 years in child pornography case

BANGOR, Maine (AP) -- A federal prosecutor says Maine's former top drug prosecutor should spend at least 21 years in prison for his conviction on child pornography charges.

But the attorney for 48-year-old James Cameron on Hallowell says Cameron should spend no more than five years in prison.

Cameron is due to be sentenced Thursday in federal court in Bangor.

Last summer U.S. District Court Judge John Woodcock found Cameron guilty of 13 counts of sending and receiving child pornography in 2006 and 2007. Cameron has been in custody since his conviction.

Under federal law Cameron faces a minimum of five years in prison. But the Bangor Daily News says federal sentencing guidelines recommend a sentence between almost 22 years and just over 27 years.


New sentence ordered for ex-NJ politician

PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- A federal appeals court has ordered that a former New Jersey state senator be resentenced.

The 3rd U.S. 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia on Tuesday tossed out Joseph Coniglio's conviction and sentence on five mail fraud counts because of the way the case was presented to the jury.

The court upheld the 68-year-old's conviction on extortion.

The Paramus Democrat was accused of using his role on the powerful Senate Budget Committee to channel millions of dollars in public funds to Hackensack University Medical Center in exchange for a $5,000-a-month consulting fee.

Coniglio is more than halfway through a 30-month sentence.

The judge who sent Coniglio to a federal prison camp in Pennsylvania will determine what his new sentence is.

New York

Man sentenced for '02 drug slaying of friend

BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) -- A 31-year-old man has been sentenced for the drug-related slaying of a friend in the summer of 2002, when the victim's body was found in a suburban Buffalo reservoir.

Michael Hesse of Cheektowaga was sentenced Tuesday in Erie County Court to 17 years in prison for the death of 23-year-old Samuel Ciapa. Under a sentencing agreement, Hesse pleaded guilty to a manslaughter charge in exchange for helping authorities solve the slaying two years ago.

Ciapa's body was found in the Sloan Reservoir in August 2002, two days after authorities say he was killed over a drug debt. Police said he had been beaten, strangled and stabbed.

Hesse helped prosecutors convict 33-year-old Alan Tomaski of Orchard Park of murdering Ciapa. Tomaski was sentenced last week to 25 years in prison.


Nevada man convicted for illegal hunt in Idaho

BOISE, Idaho (AP) -- A Las Vegas man has pleaded guilty in federal court to illegally killing a mule deer in southeastern Idaho and hauling the meat across state lines on his way back home.

Federal prosecutors say 49-year-old Peter Balestracci pleaded guilty Monday to a misdemeanor violation of the Lacey Act. The Lacey Act governs interstate commerce and his decision to take the meat and an antler out of Idaho triggered the federal crime.

Idaho game wardens say Balestracci was hunting near Soda Springs, Idaho, in October when he shot and tagged a deer with a non-resident, junior mentored permit assigned to his son. Idaho hunting law makes it illegal to use and transfer a tag issued to any other hunter.

U.S. District Judge Edward Lodge scheduled sentencing for May 31.

Published: Thu, Mar 10, 2011